Breastfeeding: To cover up or not to cover up?

This is a topic I’ve always stayed away from. Because I felt disparate from the social media mainstream when it came to my opinions on feeding in public.

But, nudged to profound irritation by the Claridges drama, I’m now so *over* reading blog posts, Facebook whinges and Twitter rants on the subject that I’m going to end my silence.

If you’re extremely sensitive about this issue and don’t think you can consider an alternative viewpoint, please — find something else to read.

Before you ask: Yes, I’m pro-breastfeeding.
I breastfed. It was, without question, the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I never had sufficient milk volume and even in a 1.5-hourly routine of feed-express, with which I persisted for 12 heart-breaking weeks, I never managed to produce more than 20ml per boob per feed.

Why did I choose to cover my boobs in public?
When I breastfed outside of my home, I chose to cover up. With a muslin cloth or some other lappie I carried for that purpose. Not because breastfeeding isn’t a beautiful, natural thing. Not because it’s anything to be ashamed of. But because I didn’t want strangers seeing my boobs.

I did this because my boobs are mine. (Okay, and my husband’s and once my baby’s.) Just like my vajayjay. And I don’t put that on display, even though a baby (was supposed to but never actually) emerged from it.

But I find it awkward when boobs are on show.
As a mom and a former breastfeeder, I still feel awkward as hell when moms who are not family members or close friends breastfeed their babies in front of a group of assorted adults, without covering up in some way. This is because I don’t know where to look. And I’m a girl. With boobs. I pity the men and the teenage boys.

Yup, this is my own issue, probably rooted in age-old prudishness. But there it is.

What’s more, it annoys the pants (bra?) off me when moms hoist up their tops, haul out a boob and proceed to feed a hungry baby — top still up, boob still out, other boob-plus-nipple exposed just for the hell of it, and smug smile in place — in the middle of public places that are not strictly family-friendly. Even these chicks, during their “feed-in”, are more or less covered up.

The social media maelstrom is bloody annoying.
Claridges, you have my sympathy. You’re a luxury hotel, for shit’s sake, and if a mom wants to breastfeed in the midst of your fancy dining room, you’re within your rights to expect her to do so discreetly. Louise Burns, when offered a large napkin as a cover-up, burst into tears. What the hell for? Just say “no thanks” to the napkin and get on with it.

You can probably tell that I’m annoyed. But not so much that I don’t welcome your input. So have at it. Feel free. Let’s have a discussion. Sound off in the comments.

Image – Flickr